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Origins of mule/donkey terminology

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  • Origins of mule/donkey terminology

    I had lots of time to ponder pointless questions yesterday on our drive home from KY. My husband was not very useful in answering most of them (What percentage of bugs die of old age? Where is the delineating line for southern accents? Why are the roads in KY are so much better than the roads in Ohio? Are we there yet?) but did formulate a few interesting questions of his own, amongst them- why are donkeys referred to as Jacks and Jennies, and mules Mollies and Johns? He stumped me good. Any idea?
    bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
    free bar.ka and tidy rabbit

  • #2
    No idea but try the American Donkey and Mule Society. Their website may lead you to that info. In our area we traditionally call a female mule a mare mule instead of a molly. Guess just regional differences.

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    • #3
      And why is "jenny" sometimes "hinny" or "jennet"? Do you pronounce the "t" in "jennet"?
      I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

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      • #4
        A hinny is a different animal, the offspring of a stallion and a jenny.

        A jennet is a small Spanish horse according to Google. The t is pronounced if I am decoding the pronunciation and dictionary symbols correctly.
        "I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

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        • #5
          I was told that the Jack and Jenny/Jennet told you it was an Ass, whether donkey or other types, Equus Asinus. Jennet was the original term for the females Ass, which devolved into Jenny. Jennet would be the common European term for the female Ass, with the T pronounced.

          Molly and John are terms used only with Mules, when correctly used. Mules are NOT Asses, only half-ass (sorry I couldnn't help myself!). Molly and John are male and female terms for Mules, just never used with the donkey/Ass breeds by knowledgable Mule folks.

          Hinny is result of a horse/pony stallion used on the female donkey/ass. They are NOT mules. Not as common as the mules, but not impossible to find. Old Farmer books say the hinny is more refined like the horse sire, not as strong or hard working as the mules, when you shop for new animals to work your farm. Hinny term should not be used to refer to any Mule or Ass. Not sure they have specific male and female terms.

          All of the Mule and Hinny males should be gelded young, to prevent stallion-like behaviour with the testosterone. They can be terrible fighters if not gelded, and being sterile hybrids for the most part, they are NOT breeding stock.

          Oddly enough, when checking Jennet, there was lots of advertising for Jennet HORSES, a new breed in all colors. Never heard of that before except in Medieval writings, using the term Jennet horses in travel because they were smooth gaited.

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